In basic terms Burčák is unfermented wine, crushed just a few days before it is served. Burčák looks and tastes a little like a VERY sweet cloudy orange juice or Mimosa, leading you to think its harmless, but trying to drink Burčák as if it is harmless is likely to get you into big trouble. It comes mostly in white wine form mostly from the Muscat grape, but I tasted a few red versions as well. The reds were very tart. Because Burčák is so sweet, it doesn’t really taste like an alcoholic beverage, even though the alcohol content is between 5% and 8%. It hits the wine bars on August 1st and can only be served through November 30th.
Burčák is made from fermenting grape juice, known as must, shortly after the grapes have been crushed. At a point determined by the winegrower, the must is declared worthy of consumption and sale and a part of it is sold as Burčák. The rest is allowed to mature into adult wine.
In common with most other alcoholic drinks produced in the Czech Republic, Burčák is supposed to offer some great health benefits. Don’t roll your eyes…they might actually have a point: Burčák is rich in vitamins, particularly Vitamin B, and certain essential minerals. I love the old saying that you should drink 5-6 liters of Burčák every year, because you have the same volume of blood in your veins. Sounds like wishful thinking to me, but the stuff is really yummy, so what the heck!
While the country’s best Burčák – and probably the best Czech wine is found in Moravia (the eastern half of the Czech Republic), Prague gets its share of the liquid gold as well. Daniela Kolejkova is from the State Food and Agriculture Inspection in Brno; she explains the Burčák allure. “Czechs but especially Moravians have a very deep, traditional relationship with Burčák, because it is a traditional Moravian beverage. Though Austrians and Germans also produce and consume young wine, only Czechs have Burčák, the name now protected under new legislation within the new EU. Following EU accession the only true Burčák can come strictly from Moravian or Czech grapes.”